BLUE ISLAND, Ill. - A suburban Chicago teacher has been fired for allegedly bullying a student into standing for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Eisenhower High School driver's education teacher Vince Ziebarth says he was terminated March 16 after being told he made "inappropriate comments'' to a sophomore student.
Ziebarth told the Daily Southtown that he told the student if he chooses to sit during the Pledge he will not sit in a driver's education vehicle.
“I believe the pledge is a sacred thing,” Ziebarth tells WGN-TV.
"America does not respect blacks, so I'm not going to respect America," said 15-year-old Shemar Cooper.
Ziebarth said he wasn't given a specific reason for his firing, adding he was not under contract, and was not a tenured teacher.
Students at the school are standing up for the teacher. No sooner was “Mister Z” let go than they had an online petition posted. It garnered all kinds of praise for the now former teacher.
“This is our time to stand up for him,” student Jessica Belseth told WGN News. “For all the times he’s stood up for us.”
Shemar’s position hasn’t changed. He’s still not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. His mother, Kelly Porter, says he’s been getting some abuse at school over Ziebarth’s dismissal, which she says wasn’t just appropriate, but necessary.
“Adults should not behave that way,” Porter said. “That’s childish. That’s really childish for him to say my son’s behaviors … let me correct myself, my son’s 1st Amendment right to sit doesn’t align with his beliefs.”
School District 218 says its policy is not to comment on discipline issues involving employees but it does confirm Ziebarth is no longer employed by the district.
School officials have declined to comment on personnel issues involving Ziebarth.
Information from: Southtown Star, http://southtownstar.chicagotribune.com/